Deana Julka, Ph.D., chair

Faculty: Berger, Brad, Crowgey, Currie, Downs, Guest, Julka, Monto, Pitzer, Saturn, Simmons

The psychology program serves the mission of the College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Portland through excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. This program offers an undergraduate major and minor that prepare students for graduate work, occupations in the helping professions, and many other career paths. The psychology department's goal is to promote good scholarship and citizenship within a community of learners. To do this, we develop collaborative academic endeavors between students and faculty, and foster intellectual engagement with the field of psychology and the world at large.

Learning Objectives and Performance Indicators of the Psychology Major

Psychology graduates of the University of Portland should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of behavior, thought, and emotion.
    1. Identify and explain key psychological terms, constructs, and theoretical approaches.
    2. Draw on research and theory to inform understandings of behavior, thought, and emotion.
    3. Describe and apply psychological principles as related to personal, social, and/or organizational issues.
  2. Think critically about psychological issues, including the ability to question assumptions and consider alternatives.
    1. Identify relevant questions and critically evaluate psychological problems and controversies.
    2. Distinguish empirical and theoretical claims and the strength and weaknesses of types of research.
    3. Design and implement research relevant to psychological phenomena.
  3. Engage with ethical and social responsibility in a diverse world.
    1. Identify relevant ethical and cultural issues related to psychological research.
    2. Articulate the importance and value of diversity in empirical research.
    3. Model behaviors that promote the creation of inclusive communities.
  4. Cultivate skills relevant for professional development.
    1. Effectively communicate the results of psychological research in both written and oral presentations.
    2. Demonstrate the ability to process psychological research and describe it in ways that are audience-appropriate.
    3. Evaluate career goals and reflect on how undergraduate experiences might serve to further these goals.

Breadth of Study

The psychology major is designed to expose its students to the breadth of approaches deployed by psychologists in their study of human nature with a focus in three areas: the brain, the mind and behavior. Upper division courses listed in Group 1 address the human condition primarily on the level of the brain and will explore the neurobiological mechanisms responsible for human thought and behavior. Courses listed in Group 2 address the human condition primarily on the level of the mind and will explore the design and function of the systems that shape thoughts, feelings and behavior. Courses listed in Group 3 address the human condition primarily on the level of behavior with an emphasis placed on cataloging and explaining the tremendous variability both within and between individuals. 

Capstone Experience

All psychology majors must take a three-credit hour capstone course as an independent class to employ and integrate concepts and skills from contemporary psychological sciences. The most common capstone experience is the senior seminar course, which is designed to help students integrate major contemporary psychological methods, theories, and research findings. Through intensive research, participation and discussion, students also learn skills of professional presentation. Students with a particular interest in independent research and honors students may instead elect to complete a three-credit hour senior thesis involving an intensive research project. Students interested in exploring psychology in community-based settings may also undertake an applied project broadly related to work in contemporary psychological sciences.